American horror film director Wes Craven, creator of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, has died aged 76.
A statement released by his family said Craven died at his Los Angeles home on Sunday from brain cancer.
A pioneer of the slasher genre, Craven once said of his work: “Horror films don’t create fear. They release it.”
Craven was credited with reinventing the teen horror genre when the first film featuring Freddy Krueger was released in 1984 starring a then-unknown Johnny Depp.
He had more recently signed deals to develop television programmes, including the new Scream series, for MTV. He had also been working on a graphic horror novel series.
Craven began his cinematic career making pornographic films.
He wrote, directed and edited his first feature film, The Last House on the Left, in 1972. A horror about the abduction of teenage girls, it was censored in many countries. Despite this, it became a box office hit that launched his career.
Joe Dante, Director of Gremlins
Wes was a pioneer. Scream was a very self-aware film, and it was one of the first films that acknowledged that the audience knows as much as the characters do, or even more, about horror films and what their tropes are.
The Scream movies enabled audiences to say “yes, I understand this and I know what the jokes are.”
Wes was a former college professor, he was very professorial. He was a very warm guy. He was the last guy you would look at and think he makes horror films. He had great relationships with his actors.
Like all of us he yearned to break out of his mould. Luckily, because of the success of the Scream films he was able to direct Meryl Streep in Music of the
Heart – which won her an Academy Award nomination.
Reflecting on his career, Craven remarked that his intention was always to innovate: “I tried to make movies where I can honestly say I haven’t seen that before and to follow my deepest intuitions and in some cases literally my dreams.”
Actors posted tributes on social media including actress Courtney Cox, who starred in Craven’s 1996 Scream and appeared in the franchise’s three subsequent films.
She said: “Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor, Wes Craven. My heart goes out to his family. x”
Rose McGowan, who also featured in the original Scream, said: “Thank you for being the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I’ve known. Please say there’s a plot twist.”
A tweet from his Twitter account featured a picture of him with the dates 1939-2015.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Official Trailer – Wes Craven